Questions for the Porcupine


do the sapless twigs of winter
taste any different on the tree
you’ve just girdled,
this waste of a pine?
Its whited branches light
the grove like candles,
like candelsticks.
But you with your poor eyesight
must favor the dark: hollows & cavities,
the undersides of things,
unchewed bark.
This pine was unwise to arm itself
with such soft & succulent spines.
It did nothing but hiss
like a gnawed-on road-salted tire.
Slow destroyer,
do you ever pass
those bleached roads in the air
& long for salt?

Download the MP3


  1. I enjoyed the audio. Am trying to recall where Buck & I were hiking when we saw the trees gnawed into pencil points.


  2. A fine poem, much enhanced in the reading. Shades of Ferlinghetti in the vocalisation, I thought.


  3. Dave,

    I should never comment on a post in the evening after drinking whiskey. Those “pencil point” trees were from beavers — not porcupines. Good grief.

    By the way, I just watched your “bear on a unicycle” in the tree. Fantastic. I have gone way out on a limb for much less reward. . .



  4. Thanks, all.

    Beth, thanks for bringing up (albeit inadvertently) the beaver comparison, which I didn’t even think of. And I’m rather flattered to think of readers enjoying a fine whiskey while they peruse the blog.


  5. Dave, I like the hidden and off rhymes in your poem — and esp. its narrow lines, like a quill. And thanks for visiting A Walk around the Lake (not park…oops)!


  6. You didn’t divide this one into into quatrains, per se, but I like the last two quatrains an awful lot.


  7. Hi Pam – Thanks for the comment, and sorry I messed up the name of your blog in the smorgasblog! (There’s another blog in my feed reader called Once Around the Park, and I mixed them up.) Yeah, I experimented with even shorter lines, but since that’s not the way I’d conceived the poem in the first place, it just didn’t work.

    Rachel – Thanks. You mean from “This pine” on? I agree that’s the strongest part of the poem. Altogether, the poem might be a little too concept-heavy, like something out of the 17th century.


  8. The blending of earlier sensibilities and modern form is part of why I like this!


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